I'm Laura. I am a gamer, a bookworm, a knitter, a spinner, a tatter, a seamstress, pierced, tattooed, musical, vehemently geeky and occasionally ineptly artistic. She/her.


How to contact me:

     laura @ cybermenology.com
     Cybermenology Handmade

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Baking experiments

Posted at 11 Dec 2008 11:58:21 AM

So I experimented with my new bread machine's recipe for cinnamon buns this weekend. It -says- that 2lbs of dough makes 24 rolls... I beg to differ ;) If they're bitesize, maybe you'd get 24 out of it. I got about 16 with my first attempt of 1.5lbs, and overbaked them by a good 5 minutes. I blame the recipe for that one.

So I stripped out the best 8 and brought them to bbqdaffid's bbq.

This morning, I got up and made a second batch. 2 lbs of dough, didn't divide the dough into halves but just rolled it all out in one big piece, and rolled it up into one GIANT log. I got 13 buns counting the two end pieces, baked them for 20 minutes, and got some darned tasty cinnamon buns :D

Half were a housewarming present for , half are munchies for the coming days. A successful experiment, I think!

One of my tomato plants has its first blossom. With any luck (and I can't believe I'm hoping for this) some bees will wander through and do its job, and we will have tomatoes! I'm still not sure that I'm not carefully cultivating some weeds in the form of faux-pepper plants, but time will tell.

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Weekend [in] Review

Posted at 11 Dec 2008 11:58:05 AM

Saturday morning, I snatched the couple of hours of sunlight that we had and ...played WoW. When it became apparent that I may want to actually take advantage of the rare burst of light, I gathered up the languishing pea plants, carrots, peppers (possibly the only hearty-looking seedlings) and lettuce and headed outside to the newly-finished garden.

Some time later, sore wrists and legs attested to time spent clinging to the outside of a 4x8 wooden box*. I attempted to turn enough soil and peat moss into the native clay that it would be a viable growing environment, and maybe? succeeded. I wouldn't put the carrots over the spot where the clay was mounded, but it should hopefully be alright for the peppers.

In the ground are: sugar snap peas along the back wall, Riesenstraube and Black Cherry tomatoes, jalepenos, hungarian wax peppers, Chinese Five Color peppers, Mini Red Bell peppers, Danvers Half Long carrots, and a mix of red leaf lettuce. It would be neat to have the onions and broccoli, but until I get a better idea of how much space what I have now is going to take up, there's no point in potentially crowding everything.

Seedlings to date: 17
Inquisitive cat: 1

We headed out in the afternoon to the MU-330 concert downtown. The opening acts were really, really awful, but the actual show was fun. Too bad we didn't know that MU-330 was playing at 6... we could have saved ourselves 2 1/2 hours and a lot of aural pain. I don't really mind that it got out so late, though - it gave us an excellent excuse to arrive late for (Dan) and skip entirely (me) the bachelor/bachelorette parties which were going on that evening. Dan said the guys were absolutely shitfaced when he arrived sometime after midnight and there was no sign of the girls being home yet. You have no idea how relieved I am to not have gone to that...

Naturally, the night after I got everything in the ground (oh, those poor peas...) we had a massive windstorm. Really bad - there were tornadoes in other parts of the country, and I'm thankful that we didn't get hit. The front light on the house was shattered in what I'm told sounded like a gunshot - the metal was literally sheared and glass was everywhere on the driveway. Power was out in south county; we were ok.

So, Sunday was spent purchasing a new light sconce and installing it. We had a look around for the birch trees Dan wants, but didn't find anything really promising. Better luck in the fall, I think. We did find the herbs that I wanted at a small farmer's market, so while Dan finished the sconce I returned to playing in the dirt. Herbs are once again in the cedar planter boxes I brought from Binghamton, but are set out in the yard to get some sun and for the cat to chew on.

*I am giving serious thought to doing some basic landscaping around the box ... it wouldn't take much, I don't think, to dig a few 'stairs' and put flagstones down, maybe level off a couple of feet on the high point of the hill so that I'm sitting level while trying to work instead of leaning downhill. It could actually be quite pretty! The tricky part would be building it so that if a second 4x4x8 bed could still be put in uphill of the first.

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Buttermilk Lemon Cookies and a finished garden

Posted at 17 Sep 2008 10:47:11 AM

So, fortified with a jack & coke, sour patch kids and the lack of a headache, I present to you the promised post. Only a day late*; not too bad, considering.

The cookies which I mentioned are these:

They are the lemon buttermilk cookies which were mentioned here at Orangette's blog. You know that I'm a sucker for anything involving lemon, so they became my weekend baking. I made the full recipe, figuring that even if it made all 6 dozen I could always foist some off on Timm and Liz, or on the office.... well, it made 7.5 dozen, so I did both with two full tupperware containers left for us!

The original recipe as printed in Gourmet magazine can be found here. The only thing I changed was to double the amount of lemon zest to around 2 tsp (or 3 lemons' worth) as suggested on Orangette.

Skip past the recipe?

Buttermilk Lemon Cookies

For cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk

For glaze
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Make cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in middle. Butter 2 large baking sheets (note: I used silicone-treated parchment paper instead).

Whisk together flour, zest, baking soda, and salt.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in batches at low speed, beginning and ending with flour mixture, until smooth.

Drop level tablespoons of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until cookies are puffed and edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes per batch. Cool cookies on sheets 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks.

Glaze cookies:
Whisk together all glaze ingredients and brush onto tops of warm cookies.

Let stand until cookies are completely cooled and glaze is set.

Cooks' note: Cookies are best the day they're made but can be frozen, wrapped well, up to 1 month.

Also accomplished is the raised garden in the back yard!

More pictures are here; the album should be public.

It's about 2' high on the outside, and is set into the hill. Down the road if we want to build another box on top of it, it should be relatively easy to base one wall on the existing (inside) wall, like we did for the shed-ward now (it's set on top of the retaining wall around the shed). That might do bad things to my sunlight, though, so for now this is more than good!

It has more soil in it now than in the picture, and comes up within about 6 inches of the top. It's a mix of ~3:1 soil to peat moss, which should help hold in the moisture once temperatures hit the 90s this summer. You'd never know it now, though... from the radio this morning we're slated to get 8 days of sporadic rain and thundershowers.

On the plan are heirloom cherry tomatoes and mini bell peppers, snap peas up the wire screen in the back, cippolini onions, dwarf carrots, hungarian wax peppers (my favorite), chinese 5-color peppers**, possibly some jalepenos and assorted herbs.

Weather-permitting I'll get the peas and carrots off of my windowsill and actually planted. Keep your fingers crossed that they don't get drowned out, but I don't think they'll survive much longer in the limited environment I've got for them inside anyway.

Probably bowling this evening :) I'm slowly getting less bad at it, which is a comfort! League starts the 19th (of May), and I'd like not to be a complete embarrassment, though Dan assures me I'm not ;-)

* Or two,if you consider that I'm posting the morning after actually writing the post.

**The mystery peppers from Tom Matarese, finally identified thanks to the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog!

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No title.

Posted at 11 Dec 2008 11:57:59 AM

It occurs to me that I haven't properly written a non kitten-related post in a couple of weeks. I wish I could say that we've been so busy it's slipped my mind, but really it's just because we haven't done much worth writing about.

I'm aiming more for 'pithy' than 'babble' in my entries.

This past weekend was a get-together in Kansas City for a friend of ours, which we opted to skip in the name of Getting Things Done. Unfortunately, this past Saturday was also the birthday of one of Dan's oldest friends here in St Louis. Friday night the two of them left the bowling alley and went straight to Jagermeister City, and as Dan + Jager = a totally blown day-after... well, we ended up getting not much done after all.


Sunday, though, saw the oil changed in my car, some laundry, some vacuuming, some rather extensive kitchen-cleaning, and absolutely no bread-baking owing to the bowl still having been either dirty or in the dishwasher from my experiments with Butter Braids ... yes, it was days ago. No, I haven't done the dishes since then.

*ahem* I would like to point out that dishes are supposed to be Dan's job. ;-)

In gardening news, I have started to refer to the backyard as the Big Dig. Yesterday we broke up the final Giant Rocks of Doom in the bottom of The Trenches in the back yard with a borrowed sledge and pickaxe. After that, it should have been smooth sailing to laying in the 4x4x8's and (finally!) filling in with peat and topsoil. True to form for the season, though, it started to rain almost as soon as we got outside and we barely got the rock broken before we had to head in again. I really hope that we can finish it this week... maybe even tonight. I'm sick of looking at plants on the kitchen counter, and I know they're not doing very well there. The peat cups they're planted in is only supposed to support life for at most a couple of weeks - not the month or more that I've had them languishing.

I suspect there will be several varieties which I'll just straight-up plant in the ground. The peas, carrots and a couple varieties of cherry tomato are all that still seem viable.

Also on the list: bake some damn bread. Braids aside, I've been disappointed with my last two attempts. I followed the recipes exactly (probably too exactly) and the dough was very dry. It kept tearing when I tried to knead it, and I wasn't entirely sure what to do about it. It's part of why I made the braids, actually... I wanted to reassure myself that it wasn't something that I've been doing wrong. Better luck next time...

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Busy weekend ahead

Posted at 10 Oct 2007 12:46:31 PM

Woo! I'm picking up my new canner on Saturday! 10:30am, and it's an hour's drive to get to where the girl works, but whatever, then I'm up and out of bed, and can deal with farmer's market and apple picking and all sorts of fresh food-type activities. Seriously, I've got a timeline mapped out. I am excitedly anal-retentive.

Thinking of poking at my red pepper & garlic pesto recipe, see if I can can (hah!) some of that up too. It's good stuff for a go-to meal when I'm not in the mood for pasta vinaigrette.

I also spent a good chunk of last evening with a pencil, ruler and notebook, drawing out the landscape of my nonexistent backyard, and mapping out what I'll plant and where in my raised beds. I had more fun doing that - felt like a kid in a candy shop, truly! As I said to Drew, the trick now is to keep myself from expanding the list of what I'd like to grow so monumentally that I can't fit it all in!

Also, I discovered Tales of Phantasia in my Game Boy DS yesterday while waiting for my car's estimate at the body shop. I don't know why I haven't played more of that game - it's barely been touched (seeing as how I completely forgot about it - thought I still had Sigma Star Saga in there), but it looks like something that's perfectly up my alley. I still have to plow through more of Demon Stone and Diablo 2, as well... so many games, so little time.

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Numex Twilight

Posted at 09 Oct 2007 05:20:30 PM

I want these!!

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Gardening matters

Posted at 04 Oct 2007 01:19:59 PM

Gardening thoughts and ideas (for when I eventually have a garden). I think it's reading all the posts about canning and preserving on my RSS list and cooking forums which is inspiring this... I have so many ideas, and don't want to forget any of them!

Note - these are mostly for my own reference, at such time as I'm able to make use of them. However, if someone else finds them useful too - party on, Garth.)

  • Raised beds?
    Yes. Tilled land is lovely, but I live in MO, and it is -dry-. Maybe I'll luck out and get naturally rich dirt, but I'm not counting on it. Plus, I can make them any height: Farmgirl Susan's are made with 2x4s and are just a few inches off the ground, whereas the people at Gardenweb have theirs made out of cinderblocks or stacked wall stone, and are waist-high.

    • Higher = good for drainage?
    • Wood, cinderblocks or stone? Stone is prettier but expensive, cinderblocks are cheaper, wood (pressure-treated or non?) is more expensive than concrete, may rot. Harder to expand wood, if it's framed up with posts drilled into the ground... you can just move stone.
    • Higher = the dogs won't be a threat, at least. Cats are a threat no matter what, heh.
    • Sunlight a factor in height? It certainly is in placement.

  • Plants:

    • Peppers

      • Sweet bell
      • Hungarian Wax (Tammy)
      • Tom Matarese's
      • Poblano
      • Jalepeno (Tammy)
      • Tammy's mystery peppers
      • Lord, I'd better start my own farm stand

    • Tomatoes

      • Cherry
      • Something else bigger and jucier. Seed catalogue from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds should be here in December, and I can't wait!

    • Peas

      • Sugar snap and/or snow, if they'll grow here. Again, the BCH catalogue will probably help with this, as well as Susan's blogs (she's in southern MO, which is a massive help. If she can grow it, so can I).
      • My herb garden, which to date includes:

        • Cinnamon Basil
        • Lavender
        • Thyme
        • Oregano
        • Rosemary

          And which I would like to expand with:
        • Sweet basil
        • Sage
        • Savory
        • Lemon thyme

    • Lettuce

      • Decison pending perusal of catalogue

    • In the not-garden department

      • Fruit tree? Apple, maybe pear? Or oooh, lemon!
      • Hummingbird feeder ("or three?" -Dan)
      • Climbing rose and/or lattice(s)

    (I'm going to need some substancial backyard space, I can already tell.)

  • Equipment that I don't need but which would would make me squeel like a little girl:

    • Crock pot (which I, thankfully, have already)
    • Dehydrator
    • FoodSaver vacuum sealer
    • Pressure canner
    • KitchenAid stand mixer
    • Slab of unglazed tile to use as bread/pizza stone
    • A really BIG pantry.
    • I'm sure this list will grow.

  • Links:

  • ToDo:

    • Scan in Dan's sketch of a 3-layer spice cabinet
    • Build better credit score, so as to be able to afford said huge-backyard'ed house
    • Win lottery.

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Job hunting

Posted at 06 Sep 2007 05:16:09 PM

I quit Ensco. I'm kind of sorry about it, but it was time, and honestly... I tried to quit before I left, and they wouldn't let go (as Mom so accurately phrased it). So my sympathy really isn't that profound.

Especially since the tech market here's doing quite well indeed, judging by the number of phone calls, emails and interviews I've been having. And especially since the interview I had today was unexpectedly amazing, and I seriously, REALLY want this job! I'm not going to post a lot about it now, 'til I know whether or not I get it, but suffice to say I'm incredibly enthused.

Dan and I have settled in really well - I've got my stuff (can't remember whether I've said that yet or not) with minimal breakages, everything fits, and we get along surprisingly well together. Without devolving into unbearably mushy stuff.... yeah. Things are very good.

The heat's finally broken, and it poured most of yesterday and this afternoon. It was 77 degrees as I drove back from my interview, and I nearly jumped for joy (in the middle of traffic. Yes..). I can't tell whether my plants are ok with this or not.. the peppers *look* better, but they still don't have any actual peppers on them. It's so weird. I'm theorizing that maybe the window box isn't big enough for them, and maybe they want something deeper... the only garden store I've seen so far turned out to be closed, though, so I'll try to find another one and see what they offer in the way of deep (but not wide) planters. The balcony can't take much more on it...

Drew was here last weekend, over Labor Day! We had a lot of fun - met up with Lindsay (Shadakul ;) ) a few times, went to dinner with Brian, Quin and Matt, hung out at bowling. Relaxed quite a bit, too :)

Made a really great ziti and sausage, with peppers and onions in a blushed crushed tomato sauce the other night. Whole 28-oz can of tomatoes and a whole box of ziti, though, so leftovers ahoy. I'm thinking mexican next, though my spanish rice and burrito skillz are a little bit lacking.


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